L.A. Clippers

Rockets make sure win streak stays on the rise

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Rockets make sure win streak stays on the rise

LOS ANGELES -- James Harden scored 17 of his 25 points in Houston's dominant first quarter, and the Rockets rolled past the Los Angeles Clippers 105-92 on Wednesday night for their 14th consecutive victory.

The Rockets (48-13) matched their longest winning streak of the season and remained a half-game ahead of Golden State for the NBA's best record.

Clint Capela and Eric Gordon each scored 22 points for the Rockets, who made 13 3-pointers.

Tobias Harris led the Clippers with 24 points, with Montrezl Harrell added 22. Lou Williams and Milos Teodosic each scored 13.

The Clippers played the previous night in Denver and looked it.

They missed 16 of their first 19 shots, had 11 turnovers and trailed by as many as 27 points in the first quarter. Harden faked Wesley Johnson so badly on one move that Johnson fell to the floor. Harden stared at him as Johnson got back up, then sunk a 3-pointer for a 31-7 lead.

The Clippers shot 22.7 percent (5 of 22) for the period and trailed 34-12 at the end of the quarter.

The Clippers overcame a 19-point deficit to win in Denver on Tuesday, but never got closer than eight against the Rockets.

Schroder, lowly Hawks hold off Pacers
ATLANTA -- Dennis Schroder scored seven of Atlanta's final eight points to finish with 14, and the Hawks held off a late Indiana comeback to beat the Pacers 107-102 on Wednesday night.

John Collins had 16 points for the Hawks, who led by 23 before holding on late to end their four-game losing streak.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Indiana with 26 points while making four 3-pointers in the final period. His third 3 of the period cut the Atlanta lead to 97-91. A follow shot by Domantas Sabonis, who had 14 points, pulled the Pacers to 101-99.

Schroder answered with a layup with 44 seconds remaining, and then added another driving layup following an Indiana turnover.

Taurean Prince had 15 points, all in the first half, and Dewayne Dedmon also scored 15 for Atlanta (see full recap).

Streaking Pelicans rally after Aldridge injury
SAN ANTONIO -- Anthony Davis had 26 points and 15 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans rallied in the final two minutes to beat San Antonio 121-116 on Wednesday night, adding to the Spurs' misery after losing LaMarcus Aldridge to an injury in the first half.

New Orleans won its seventh straight after trailing by as many as 15 points.

San Antonio, which has been without superstar forward Kawhi Leonard for all but nine games this season, lost Aldridge to a sprained right ankle late in the first half. Aldridge landed awkwardly while defending a driving hook shot by Davis with three minutes left in the second quarter.

The injury would prove critical down the stretch for the Spurs, who've lost five of their past six. The team did not immediately disclose how long Aldridge will be out.

Jrue Holiday finished with 25 points and Rajon Rondo added 13 points and 12 assists for the Pelicans.

San Antonio had six players in double figures, including 19 from Rudy Gay and 18 from Dejounte Murray (see full recap).

Sixers interested in Lou Williams — should they make a trade?

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Sixers interested in Lou Williams — should they make a trade?

The absence of Markelle Fultz for nearly the entire season has left the Sixers shorthanded with scoring off the bench. Too many times this season we've seen the Sixers' second unit either struggle to hold a lead or turn a close game into a lopsided one.

It's why, ahead of the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline, we've seen the Sixers connected to several scorers. Earlier in the week it was Avery Bradley, then Tyreke Evans.

We can now add two more names to the list: Lou Williams and Marco Belinelli. The Sixers have expressed interest in both players, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

The case for Lou-Will
Lou-Will was so close to being an All-Star for the first time this season. It's unfortunate he didn't get the nod because he probably won't have another first half as impressive as this one. In 49 games with the Clippers, he's averaged 23.5 points and 5.2 assists, shot 44 percent from the field, 39 percent from three and 90 percent from the line. All this while coming off the bench in 35 of 49 games.

Williams is on an affordable, $7 million salary. He's a free agent after the season. The Clippers are likely looking for a first-round pick and could end up getting it. If they don't, they're in no immediate rush to trade Williams. The assumption is L.A. will trade Lou-Will and DeAndre Jordan after shipping Blake Griffin to Detroit, but owner Steve Ballmer might want to keep some excitement around. Lou-Will is certainly an exciting player and perhaps could be talked into staying with the Clips, where he's comfortable.

The Sixers obviously wouldn't trade the Lakers and/or Kings pick (whichever doesn't go to Boston) for Williams. But what about their own first-rounder? As of now, that pick would be 17th.

Aside from that pick, there's not much else of value the Sixers have to trade that they'd be willing to trade. They're not trading Dario Saric for a half-season rental. Aside from their pick, their most realistically tradable assets are Richaun Holmes, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot or guys stashed overseas.

Still, the opinion here is that Lou-Will would be worth it. He has defensive limitations but does so much else well in terms of creation and game-changing hot streaks. And the Sixers probably have enough size and defensive skill to make up for him. Even a lineup including Williams and JJ Redick could include Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Robert Covington, three players with length and good defensive instincts.

Cheaper option
As for Belinelli, he'd come much cheaper if the Sixers were to go down that road. He's in the final year of a contract that pays him $6.6 million in 2017-18. He has one legitimately above-average skill and that's shooting. Belinelli is shooting 37.1 percent from three this season and making 1.8 per game. He's also shooting 93 percent from the line.

Belinelli could probably be had for a second-round pick or two ... it's a situation very similar to what the Sixers had with Ersan Ilyasova last season.

Pistons eye Sixers' spot with blockbuster as bigger domino looms

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Pistons eye Sixers' spot with blockbuster as bigger domino looms

MILWAUKEE — The Pistons are making a long-term commitment to contend as they battle for a playoff spot this season against the Sixers and other teams in the Eastern Conference.

According to multiple reports Monday (first reported by ESPN), the Pistons will send Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round and a second-round pick to the Clippers in exchange for Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson and Willie Reed.

The Pistons (22-26) are currently one spot behind the Sixers (24-23) in a race for a playoff berth. The Sixers are 3-0 against the Pistons so far this season. They will face off again on April 4 in Detroit, a game that could have postseason implications.

Griffin scored 29 points with six rebounds and five assists in the Sixers’ November win over the Clippers this season.

The Pistons are shedding short-term contracts to lock in Griffin (22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists this season) long term. Griffin signed a massive $171 million contract this past summer. He has three years guaranteed after this season and a player option for 2021-22. The contracts of Johnson and Reed expire this season.

The Pistons are willing to part ways with Harris, who is having the best season of his seven-year NBA career with 18.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Harris has two guaranteed years remaining ($16 million, $14.8 million), as does Marjanovic ($7 million per year).

The Pistons also are shedding Bradley’s expiring contract, a bargain by today’s market at $8.8 million. Bradley once again will play for Doc Rivers, who likely will tap into the guard’s defensive strengths as he did on the Celtics.

This may not be the only major move coming in the East. The Griffin trade could have an impact on the entire league during the summer. 

The New York Times' Marc Stein reported the Clippers feel they could be a team to lure LeBron James out of his player option with the Cavaliers this summer and will look for trade partners for DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams by this trade deadline (Feb. 8). If James leaves the Cavaliers, that would create a huge window of opportunity for teams like the Sixers to move up in the conference.